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Open Education

Education is the sharing of knowledge, for me it is a passion, it is life. Education can only happen through sharing, if this is always chargeable or covered by copyright then are we not holding our knowledge to the ransom of a specific fee.

The Canvas Network website states "Education is, first and foremost, an enterprise of sharing. In fact, sharing is the sole means by which education is effected. If an instructor is not sharing what he or she knows with students, there is no education happening."

Yes, there is a time for chargeable education, but there is also space for sharing for the joy of sharing. This is where open education comes in.

As a private music teacher I have been in the situation when a student starts lessons with one book only to find that the style or speed is not ideal, and requires another book, or two and so the expense grows. This is not beneficial to education or to the students self confidence.

Open education with its continuous quality improvement and incremental adaption allows educators to present the material the fits the students requirements as they are presented at the time. This gives the student the greatest opportunity to understand when the topic is presented in a method that fits there requirements. As the famous quote says "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid"

Open education allows for learners whether singularly visual, kinaesthetic, audio or experiential learners or a combination unique to that learner and their learning method; the answer for how to present an item will be available through open education, learning or teaching.

The transformation that openness has on education the history to yet be made will show however already we can see the transformative roots

  • in teaching via online videos

  • in curriculum as teachers develop their own programs

  • in textbooks as bookless learning becomes stronger with new material being prepared and printed by anyone

  • in research with new concepts and ideas being presented in an open forum without having to pass through the usual honing arenas

  • in policy as the responsibility for education moves from colleges and universities to the learner.

If open source software is a gauge, then the future looks positive for open learning, only time will tell.


Dr. David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. He is also the Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge and Founder and board member of the Open High School of Utah. He was formerly Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University.

Martin Weller has published a downloadable book on "The Battle for Open" where he discusses open education: open access, MOOCs, open education resources and open scholarship.

to be continued...

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